Pelosi: We Must Act Now in Darfur

San Francisco – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement at the San Francisco Save Darfur Coalition divestment press conference this morning:

“Thank you, San Francisco Save Darfur Coalition, for your leadership on efforts to pressure the Sudan government to end the genocide in Darfur. Three years after the Bush Administration declared the situation in Darfur as genocide, the conditions continue to worsen. It is now estimated that as many as 400,000 civilians have been killed and up to 2.5 million people have been displaced. How many times can we say 'never again,' and then proceed to observe the systematic elimination of a people?

“While there has been some diplomatic progress, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continues to delay the deployment of a robust and fully-funded international peacekeeping force, even after expressing 'unconditional acceptance' of an African Union/United Nations hybrid peacekeeping force of 17,000 troops and 5,500 police. The United States and the international community must use all available diplomatic and economic leverage to pressure the Khartoum government to allow the deployment of a new peacekeeping force.

“The American people are demanding an end to the genocide. State governments, universities and religious communities are leading divestment campaigns to ensure that money from American citizens will not go to a genocidal regime. I am particularly proud of the citizen efforts in San Francisco to persuade financial interests to use their leverage to end the genocide.

“In July, I was proud to support the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, which will authorize states to divest from Sudan, ban federal contracts to companies doing business in Sudan, and establish a list of foreign companies that conduct business in Sudan so that Americans know if they are inadvertently supporting the genocide.

“Passage of this legislation sends a clear message to the government of Sudan that we will continue to ratchet up the pressure until the genocide ends. We must act now while there is still an opportunity to save lives.

“Thank you again for your tremendous leadership.”

In June the Oversight Committee held a hearing urging China, which is hosting the 2008 Olympics, to use its unique influence and economic leverage to stop genocide and violence in Darfur. Having continually pressed President Bush to do more to stop this genocide, Speaker Pelosi also raised the issue with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi in May. Then, in July the House overwhelmingly voted to use America’s own influence and economic leverage with the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, which bars federal contracts with companies that do business with the Sudanese government.

Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank opened debate on the bill:

Chairman Frank:
“I had a great day years ago, Mr. Speaker, standing in Statuary Hall just away from this chamber and hear Nelson Mandela thank the Congress of the United States because we’d enacted sanctions, and he said that the enactment of sanctions by the US as part of a world-wide enactment of sancitons brought to an end of an Apartheid earlier than it could have. Our former colleague Mr. Dellums, now the mayor of Oakland, had a very proud day then, he’d been the leader of it. And it’s very fitting that the initiator of the bill we are dealing with today is his successor, the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lee, who has been the driving force in the bill we have before us.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-09), the primary sponsor of the bill, spoke in favor:

Rep. Lee:
“Three years ago under the leadership of our good friend, Congressman Don Payne, Congress formally declared that the genocide was taking place in Darfur. Today the genocide is getting worse. I have witnessed this horror on three occasions in Darfur and let me tell you, it is getting worse. Mr. Speaker, many of us in a bipartisan effort have spoken out repeatedly on the Floor over the last three years in condemnation of the ongoing genocide in Darfur. These efforts have only intensified as we have sought to use each and every tool at our disposal to bring this genocide to an end.”
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